Friday, January 13, 2006

Must-See Movie: Psycho

Psycho (1960)
Perfect for Friday the 13th (today, people!), I bring you the Hitchcock classic. Everyone knows the story, and everyone knows the shower scene. But it's still worth watching because of the little details you find every time you watch this movie. (And not just the Hitchcock cameo.)

Janet Leigh plays Marian Crane, an embezzling woman on the run who happens upon the Bates Motel, run by Norman Bates - a true mama's boy. ("A son is a poor substitute for a lover.") After some strange conversation about taxidermy and birds with Bates, she settles into her room to take a shower. And that is where the murder happens.

Looking beyond that famous scene, there is a lot of depth in this movie. Every time I've watched the movie I've noticed a different moment. The detective, played by Martin Balsam, is intriguing. He seems to know immediately that something is up, but is cautious in his questioning of Bates, as if he senses the level of insanity in the man. He tentatively traps him in more than a few lies, and doesn't let anything slip past. But it's a tight-wire act; the detective can't alarm the hotel owner, or the young man will withhold more information.

Also interesting is the scene where Norman cleans up after the murder. He takes great care in straightening every picture and wrapping it all up into a neat bundle. And the whole time Hitchcock keeps an eye on the newspaper where Marian hid the money.

In looking up pictures for the movie, I found some of audience reactions at the movie's premiere, I'm assuming during the shower scene. My favorite member of the audience is the fellow with the cigarette dangling from his mouth. He must be more concerned with Janet Leigh naked than her being hacked to death.

And the woman in the foreground seems to be enjoying this a bit too much.

Who's the real psycho now??

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